Another Perspective On Helping Our Kids Make Friends – by Ali Skylar

The other day I was talking to a mom who is just incredibly overwhelmed helping her two young teenage boys figure out not just how to do school online, but how to create friendships online.

As many parents know, making and keeping friends is probably one of the biggest challenges our kids encounter during their school journey. 

It can be heartbreaking seeing your child ignored, possibly bullied and just plain not liked by his or her peers.  

I started thinking back to when my son was that age (pre-pandemic world) and the creative ways and the amount of time we would invest in trying to help him make friends.  

For me, and what I’ve witnessed in other parents, we felt such an enormous responsibility and anxiety around “making sure your kids had friends.”  And if they didn’t have friends, or couldn’t make friends just “being themselves,” then both the parents and the kid felt that “something was wrong.”

And that’s why both hubby and I felt it was so important to help our kids find their passion(s), the things they could do everyday that made them feel happy to be here on planet earth!

Now, as the parent of an almost 22 year old and a 28 year old, with some history and experience behind me, I shared with my mom friend (just entering the teen years), in my opinion, first and foremost to helping our kids make friends, is to help them figure out what their special talents, gifts, interests, are that allow them to feel good about themselves!

Once a child finds that magic, “special sauce” (as my husband likes to call it)  that makes them unique and individual, they then develop self-esteem and self-worth, and ultimately are more confident and excited to interact with their peers. 

In my experience, rejection still hurts and stings, but when a kid has a sense of purpose and interest in exploring, discovering and expressing their talents, the rejection doesn’t devastate or sting as deeply, and recovery happens a lot quicker.

What if instead of putting so much energy into helping our kids “make friends” and be accepted at school, we instead helped them to discover the magical manifestations that occur when you explore your personal connection to yourself?

Today, when unfortunately millions of children are currently stuck in their house due to a pandemic and a lock down that is preventing social connection, it seems like the perfect time for kids to focus in on their “special sauce.”

For my kids, having something truly special and near and dear to their hearts that makes them feel good about who they are, made it so much easier for them to go out and make friends.  They took chances and were more adventurous when stepping into new and unknown territory with peers. 

So wouldn’t it be so nice if us parents could just take a deep breath, and relax into the knowing that making friends is an ongoing, emotional roller-coaster process? Whether your kid is considered “normal” or your kid has special needs, it’s not about us trying to so hard to help our kids “make friends,” but rather it’s about helping our kids become the beautiful magnets they were meant to be that just naturally and authentically attracts friends into their lives.

Got any ideas to share on this topic? Feel free to comment below!


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